Bonnaroo: Music, Arts, and Food
Last summer’s Bonnaroo was my first ever and I honestly walked around for hours thinking, “why have I never done this before???” Truly, it was a complete blast.
Bonnaroo celebrates its 15th anniversary this year, and I plan to be there once again. While it seems that some of the lineup leaked online last week, the organizers won’t confirm, so we’ll all want to watch Conan tomorrow night to see the unveiling of the full, official list. (Tuesday, January 19th at 11/10pm CT on TBS)
I’m fairly certain that all of you know what Bonnaroo is, but if there is anyone out there reading this that doesn’t, allow me to enlighten you. Bonnaroo is a four day event that takes place on a 700-acre farm about an hour south of Nashville in Manchester, Tennessee. This year there will be more than 150 musicians, bands, and comedians performing across 12 unique stages June 9th – 12th.
Named by Rolling Stone as one of the “50 Moments That Changed The History of Rock ‘n’ Roll”, Bonnaroo offers so many live music options that it’s mind-boggling. Not just rock, but also hip hop, electronic, jazz and Americana. Oh, and there’s also comedy, cinema, a beer festival, art, and wellness programs. And the one aspect of the festival that I am quite sure hasn’t gotten the attention it deserves, but was of course, pretty much my favorite part of the whole thing– the food!
From the moment I arrived at Bonnaroo, I was on a mission. A mission to devour the best eats we could find, and boy, did I ever!
My friend Jesse, an avid eater like myself, was my partner in this adventure and through the power of social media, Bonnaroo’s own handy little app, and our own eyeballs, we discovered some insanely delicious and interesting foods.
Ah, but let’s also not forget the drinks. In terms of alcohol, there’s only beer available inside the festival, and while I’m not a huge beer drinker, the Broo’ers Festival was a blast. The very large tent was a great place to escape from the heat and cool down with craft beers from all over the country. Jesse and I purchased a handful of tickets and spent a good chunk of time be-bopping between breweries (25+ to choose from!), swigging from 3-ounce sample cups.
The first beer stand we stumbled upon was Green Flash Brewing Co, and my first question to them was “are you from San Diego?” You see, when I lived in SD, there was a restaurant in my neighborhood called The Green Flash, so I was just taking a wild guess that maybe it was associated in some way. Turns out there is no association to the restaurant (which is now shuttered), but they were in fact from my beloved San Diego!
It was fun chatting with them and sharing stories of the area, but the best part was that even after visiting several other beer stands, their beers were my favorite. So happy to have discovered them and definitely planning to visit the brewery when I’m out in San Diego in a couple of months.
Okay, now the food. My goodness, the food. There is really no way I could have covered every single thing we ate in this post, so I narrowed it down to some of the most interesting and/or delicious. I went into the experience having no idea that we’d find so much great food and simply cannot wait to go back again this year to try even more.
Let me admit something: I am not a big fan of donuts. You could put a dozen different kinds in front of my face and I wouldn’t be tempted to eat even one, no matter how fantastic they smelled (and they do smell fantastic). But the Amish Baking Co. donuts at Bonnaroo rocked my world.
Good lord, those things are fantastic.
INSANE Amish Baking Company donuts.
Pastries, tamales, arepas, tacos, burgers, rice bowls, pizza, poutine, alligator, bacon flights on a stick….seriously, you name it, and Bonnaroo likely has it.
Cuban slow roasted pork with cuban fricase sauce
Roasted red pepper and goat cheese with red pepper cream
Unfortunately I’m not completely sure where some of my favorites were from as they all started to blur together and it’s not so easy (or fun) to take notes in the middle of a music festival.
I’ll be searching out Viva la Fajita this year, as I think they were responsible for the incredible steak tacos I had in 2015.
Poutine is always better than heroin or crack.
Spicy pie = a crowd favorite
While I loved so many things I tried, my absolute, hands-down favorite of the weekend was Roti Rolls. Found in the Food Truck Oasis, they’re based out of Charleston, and I’ve since learned that they’ve won Best Food Truck there every year since their inception in 2010. I can see why.
Funky Farmer – coconut green curried local vegetables, pickled beets, and pickled radish
Thurman Merman – braised farm raised pork, creole mac & cheese, kimchi
THE BEST THING I ATE AT BONNAROO 2015:
Roti Roll’s Foghorn Leghorn
coconut green curried local vegetables, grilled organic chicken, candied onions, kimchi
Absolute best thing I put in my mouth the entire festival — the Foghorn Leghorn. Gimme, gimme!!!
Back to drinking. While we enjoyed some awesome craft brews during the festival, we were thrilled to meet up with some friends that generously shared some of Nashville’s own Pickers Vodka with us.
A little Blood Orange Pickers + ginger beer + a squeeze of lime does a happy girl make.
Hydrating at Bonnaroo is important. Vodka is hydrating, right?
Despite the fact that my #1 interest is food and my #2 interest is drinking, I really did take some time to listen to the music as well! ;-)
If you’ve never been to Bonnaroo and you have some negative notions in your head on exactly what it is — remove them. For years I didn’t have any desire to attend, and now that I have, I can’t wait to go back again!
This year’s 15th anniversary celebration brings some awesome new amenities which includes 400 permanent toilets and hundreds of permanent shower stalls. I’m pretty sure most you aren’t fans of port-a-potties – I mean, who is?? – so this announcement is pretty exciting.
Looking back through all of my pics of this magical festival made me so happy. It’s really difficult to put the experience into words. In fact, I can’t. You just need to do it to feel it for yourself.
To plan your visit and follow along with all things Bonnaroo, go to www.bonnaroo.com, and/or follow Twitter @bonnaroo, Facebook and Instagram @bonnaroo.
Would love to be able to visit during that time. We are coming to Nashville in April of this year! I was wondering if you had a perference between staying at Union Station Hotel or Hotel Indigo which would you choose. I would love suggestions if you know something better as far as location.
Both of those are great choices and in really good locations for everything you’ll want to do downtown. Feel free to email me if you have any questions about anything else! email@example.com
a) you’re coming back again this year, right? and
b) you better stay over this time! All the more Picker’s we can drink in that case.
Yes and YES!!!!!